Rethinking Online Book Browsing For Readers & Authors ben fox marilyn l davis

Rethinking Online Book Browsing For Readers & Authors

 By: Ben Fox 

 

Browsing for Books Is Now Online

“Every book begins and ends with other people- the readers who suggest the book to us and encourage us to read it, the talented author who crafted each word, the fascinating individuals we meet inside the pages- and the readers we discuss and share the book with when we finish.”― Donalyn Miller, Reading in the Wild

I love wandering around my local bookstore and seeing which books catch my eye. The process of picking up a book, reading a little about it, and seeing if it sounds interesting is incredibly pleasurable. Nothing can replace that bookstore experience, but I want to reimagine this experience for the online world, to facilitate readers, but also to help authors find the perfect readers for their book. I launched Shepherd.com in April 2021 with this goal in mind.

How does Shepherd help readers discover books?

We ask authors to recommend five books around a topic or theme they are passionate about and why they love each book. We share those recommendations with readers and help readers follow their curiosity through those book recommendations. For example, Marilyn L. Davis wrote about the best memoirs of drug and alcohol addiction. At the bottom of her recommendations, you can find lists that are both closely and distantly related as you browse.

This is just the start, and toward December 2021, we will be adding a much improved front page, topic pages, and search so that readers can find book recommendations using a favorite author, favorite book, or topic that interests them. The ultimate goal with every feature we add is to help readers discover books in a fun and unique ways.  

Why do authors need help finding readers? 

More and more books are released every year, and it takes a lot of work to stand out among new releases and the back catalog. Authors have to be their own marketing teams, which is hard to learn and time-consuming. I want to make it easier for authors to put their book in front of their perfect readers for it. 

How does Shepherd help authors find perfect readers? 

When an author creates a book list, we recommend that the topic or theme pair well with the book they will feature. That way, the readers who land on your list will also be interested in your book. And, through the book recommendations, an author showcases their passion and expertise, which leads to more interest in their book. 

For example, Marilyn L. Davis wrote about the best memoirs of drug and alcohol addiction and paired the list with her book Finding North. Any readers interested in learning about addiction and recovery will also be interested in Marilyn’s book. And exposing her voice through the book recommendations, it further cements that interest. 

We recently had a TV host and renowned Harvard professor recommend one of our author’s book lists. The author’s book sold as many copies as combined sales for all five other books he recommended. You can get a detailed breakdown of this effect here

Shepherd.com also promotes the author's book list throughout our website and marketing channels, designing and refining every feature to help readers find your booklist. Click To Tweet 

Authors shouldn’t have to be online marketing experts.

There is a growing trend that authors have to do all the marketing for their book. As we move to an online world, the skillset that requires is immense. I’ve been an online marketer in some incredibly competitive fields, and I only focused on 1 or 2 online channels. Unfortunately, now authors have to handle much of the marketing themselves like: 

  • email marketing 
  • Twitter 
  • Instagram
  • Facebook 
  • Pinterest
  • Linked In
  • SEO 
  • Whatever other Social Media pops up today
  • Video pitches for their books
  • Market at book stores 

…and so much more. That just isn’t possible, especially when you also need to write a book :). 

I hope that Shepherd can help authors write more and market less. I want Shepherd to help find and highlight new and talented authors and help readers browse a more diverse list. 

 

Rethinking Online Book Browsing For Readers & Authors ben fox marilyn l davis

Where is Shepherd going?

In December 2021, we will be adding a much improved front page, topic pages, and search so that readers can find book recommendations using a favorite author, favorite book, or topic that interests them. The ultimate goal with every feature we add is to help readers discover books in a fun and unique ways. 

Shepherd just turned six months old, and one of the features I’m most excited about is how readers can search:

  • Favorite book
  • Author
  • Topic

The feedback from authors has been fantastic, and we already have over 1,800 author’s book recommendations. Over the coming years, I hope to help authors sell more books, land more book deals, and generally make it easier for them to get noticed. I am working on some great features for 2022 to help authors with book launches as well. 

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for authors to keep you informed on our progress. 

Feel free to hit me up with any ideas or if you are interested in taking part. My email is Ben@Shepherd.com, and I am always happy to chat.

 

Bio: Ben Fox

Rethinking Online Book Browsing For Readers & Authors ben fox marilyn l davis

Ben Fox is the founder of Shepherd.com, a website that reimagines book discovery for readers and authors. He is a long-time tech entrepreneur who loves to read, travel, and explore the world on his bike. 

Ben Fox at Shepherd (@bwb) / Twitter

LinkedIn

For more about Ben Fox, read his interview on Publishing Talks: Interview with Ben Fox of Shepherd.com | WritersCast

 

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing 

 

Do you need additional exposure for your writing?  As Ben Fox pointed out, authors are responsible for marketing today. A guest post can be a part of that strategy. 

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What are some of the benefits of guest posts? 

  • There is no fee for a published guest post – free publicity 
  • You increase your exposure – grow your audience
  • A guest post boosts referral traffic – readers migrate to your site
  • Each guest post strengthens your online authority – PR without the price tag
  • You expand your online network – connections create opportunities

Submit your guest post today. Here are the guidelines. 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. I hope to encourage other authors to use this service. Where else can you get free links to your books and promote other writers, too?

    It’s simple to use. Ben Fox is great to work with, and I did notice an increase in sales the day my list was published.

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